Japan Supreme Court rules defunct eugenics law unconstitutional

Japan's Supreme Court has ruled for the first time that the country's defunct Eugenic Protection Law, which forced people with impairments to undergo sterilization surgery, is unconstitutional.

People who were forcibly sterilized had filed lawsuits across Japan, arguing that the discriminatory treatment was unconstitutional and seeking state compensation.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court's Grand Bench made its decision on five rulings by high courts in Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo and Osaka.

Presiding justice Tokura Saburo declared the defunct law unconstitutional and ordered compensation in four of the cases.

The case in Sendai, in which the high court dismissed the plaintiff's claim, was sent back to a lower court.

This is the 13th time since the end of World War Two that the Supreme Court has found a legal provision to be unconstitutional.

The Eugenic Protection Law was in effect for 48 years until it was scrapped in 1996.

It allowed doctors to remove the reproductive functions of people with mental or intellectual disabilities.

About 25,000 people are said to have been sterilized, including those who allegedly agreed to undergo surgery.

The state had argued that it bore no responsibility for compensation due to the extended period since the surgeries.